I have need of endurance these days. The task of caring for the church is feeling particularly heavy. There are times when the stress and the sadness is so great that my knees begin to buckle. I often think of the apostle Paul’s account of his own suffering. He experienced things like ship wreck, beatings, whippings, stoning, and imprisonment. I have not one inkling of what it is like to suffer in those ways. It is interesting however that along with his physical torments Paul lists the pressure of caring for the church. He knew deep disapointments and betrayals. He knew what it was to be abandoned by friends. He carried the weight of his own imcomplete sanctification. What is more, he proclaimed a message that was deeply despised as it still is today.
I often wonder why God did not give me thicker skin, as it were. I wound easily. I feel every criticism deeply. I rage against this weakness within myself. But I also know that God entrusts to us all certain reminders of our dependence upon Him. He gives us certain flaws that we might learn to daily walk in grace.
“When historians list the character traits of America in the last third of the twentieth century, commitment, constancy, tenacity, endurance, patience, resolve, and perseverance will not be on the list. The list will begin with an all consuming interest in self-esteem. It will be followed by the subheadings of self-assertiveness, self-enhancement, and self-realization. And if we think that we are not children of our times, let us simply test ourselves to see how we respond when people reject our ideas or spurn our good efforts or misconstrue our best intentions.”
– John Piper
“And his faith upholds him under all trials, by assuring him that every dispensation is under the direction of his Lord; that chastisements are a token of his love; that the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings, are appointed by Infinite Wisdom, and designed to work for his everlasting good; and that grace and strength shall be afforded him, according to his day.”
– John Newton
“My dear brother, we must not mind a little suffering for Christ’s sake. When I am getting through a hedge, if my head and shoulders are safely through, I can bear the pricking of my legs. Let us rejoice in the remembrance that our holy Head has surmounted all His suffering and triumphed over death. Let us follow Him patiently; we shall soon be partakers of His victory.”
– Charles Simeon